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My car, a 2002 Ford Escape, suddenly veers off course when I'm driving. When you take the front passenger side tire off there is a lot of play around the stearing knuckle. I don't see any obvious problems with the tie rod end or lower ball joint but I've heard those are the two things to check.

I have a suspicion it is the lower ball joint but like I said I don't see anything wrong with it. I don't quite see why that being damaged would allow the whole stearing knuckle to have as much play as it does. Because it never does anything outside of the normal operating parameters of the lower ball joint when I move it with my hands.

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    If the ball joint is bad, it could definitely cause the steering to veer. Was wondering, though ... how did you diagnose the lower ball joint as being good or rule it out? You said there's "a lot of play around the steering knuckle" ... how does it move when you are looking at it? This could be a wheel bearing problem, which could cause it to veer as well. Steering is just an area you don't want to say, "well, it looks okay", because the steering is paramount to stability while driving. Mar 15 at 17:37
  • Thanks for the reply. I did an external observation but I wouldn't make a judgement call about whether it was good or bad based off of that. At best I was hoping I would see something way off and obviously causing a problem. It's definitely not the wheel bearing, that's fine. It just has more play in it than feels comfortable. The drivers side has almost no play but the passenger side has what feels like a lot of play.
    – user875234
    Mar 15 at 18:07
  • « Move it with my hands » ... really. If you want to test it for play use a long lever.
    – Solar Mike
    Mar 15 at 19:09
  • Are you certain that you aren't looking at a tie-rod end?
    – mikes
    Mar 15 at 21:42
  • No, I'm not certain. It definitely could be a tie rod end. Does this sound like a tie rod end issue to you? I did visually inspect the exterior of the tie rod end and watched it as a tested out the play but I didn't see anything wrong.
    – user875234
    Mar 15 at 22:09

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